Wednesday, 23 May 2018


A couple from crime-cum-horror author Tom Piccirilli this week.

I've read a couple of his before - The Cold Spot which precedes The Coldest Mile and Fuckin' Lie Down Already. Truth be told I can't remember Jack about either. FLDA was read in 2011 and the other one way back when - both long before I started blogging on my reading.

Tom Piccirilli sadly passed in 2015, but not before he left a legacy of some fine fiction.

The Fever Kill (2008)

Crease is going back to Hangtree.

It's where his father met ruin in the face of a scandal involving the death of a kidnapped girl. It's where Crease was beaten, jailed, and kicked clear of the town line ten years earlier.

Now he's back. He s been undercover for so long that most days he feels more like a mobster than a cop. He doesn t mind much; the corrupt life is easier to stomach than dealing with a wife who can't understand him, a son who hates him, and half-dozen adopted kids he can t even name anymore.
He's also just gotten his drug dealing, knife-wielding, psycho boss Tucco s mistress pregnant. A fine time to decide to settle old scores and resolve a decade-old mystery.

With Tucco hot on his tail, Crease has to find his answers fast. Who kidnapped little Mary? Who really killed her? Was his own father guilty? And what happened to the paltry fifteen grand ransom that might spell salvation to half the desperate population of Hangtree?

The town still has a taste for his blood and secrets it wants to keep. But Crease has other plans, and he trusts that his raging fever for revenge will get him through...

Featuring an introduction by Ken Bruen.

The Coldest Mile (2009)

Raised to be a thief and getaway driver, Chase left the bent life after he found his true love, Lila. For ten years he walked the straight and narrow - until Lila was murdered. Now Chase is looking for his grandfather Jonah, the stone-cold-killer con man who raised him anis the last living repository of his family's darkest secrets. In returning to his criminal roots, Chase hopes to save Jonah's infant daughter from the life that Chase himself can't escape.

But first he'll need a score. Chase thinks he's found it as a driver for a dysfunctional crime family that's anything but organized. With the Langans' patriarch dying, the once powerful syndicate may unravel before Chase can rip it off. If he survives the bloodbath to come, he'll face an even uglier showdown. Because his grandfather Jonah is waiting for him at the coldest family reunion this side of hell.

Monday, 21 May 2018



Friedrich Nietzsche wrote:

You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.

So it is for Jason Dean a hitman, enforcer if you like, lying in the gutter looking up at the stars. In defiance of his brutal upbringing and bullying father, Jason has learned to appreciate fine literature and classical music. At his father's insistence he learns to box from a young age and thus has ensured that he is able to contend with the brutal world he now inhabits.

A story that pulls no punches as we journey with Jason through a typical day, experiencing his highs and his lows. A tale with violence and heart, of normal folk living desperate lives.

The second in our Knuckle Cracking Novella series. Near to the Knuckle are proud to bring you One Day in the Life of Jason Dean by Ian Ayris, author of the critically acclaimed Abide with Me published by Caffeine Nights.

An eventful, climactic day in the life of our main character Jason Dean unfolds gradually. Normal everyday interactions - spousal indifference, breakfast in the cafe, a walk through the market - escalate slowly with increasing tension into violence as the workday commences - a meeting, a list of chores - must get much-loved, daughter Sophie a birthday present and several confrontations, each leaving their mark on Jason.

Reflection, regret, an event in the past, an erosion of the spirit. I could elaborate but to do so would risk spoiling things for a new reader.

A bit of high brow culture (Nietzsche, Wagner and Shostakovich) combines with a local history lesson, which documents the passage of time, combines with the mundane elements of working for a local criminal and money lender and the tedious but necessary application of some physical punishment. Today might just be different though.

Jason's inner monologue throughout provides some insight into a more complex character, than his job title might have you believe he is. Throughout, fierce parental love pervades.

Despite the melancholy nature of this one, we do have some occasional slapstick, which momentarily lightens the mood.

A moving, thoughtful and considered piece.

4.5 from 5

I've enjoyed Ian Ayris previously - Abide With Me and April Skies both last year.

Ian Ayris has his website here.

Read in May, 2018
Published - 2012 originally, (2016 republished by Near to the Knuckle)
Page count - 108
Source - purchased copy
Format - Kindle

Friday, 18 May 2018



Mercie Hillbrook lives a simple, quiet life working as a gas station attendant. Then her parents are killed. Her home is taken. The people responsible are excused for just doing their job. When an attempt to get justice her way lands her in trouble with the law, Mercie realizes she still has something to lose: her own life. 

Then she finds reason to believe her parents were murdered… and she doesn't care anymore

Roy delivers on the edge of your seat storytelling with rough edges, crooked cops and a tiny light at the end of the tunnel that is never quite extinguished. 

— Tom Vater, co–founder of Crime Wave Press.

Her Name Is Mercie is a fast furious ride into an inferno of the highest tension you are likely to encounter this year. Where noir meets thriller, toss a coin. Dive in. And unplug your phones, pcs tablets and keep reading deeper and deeper, until the final pages.

— Richard Godwin, author of Apostle Rising.

A decent collection of a few short stories and a much longer piece - Her Name is Mercie - from new-to-me author Chris Roy.

Her Name is Mercie ... the star of the show - 90-odd pages with Mercie and a juvenile sidekick kicking back against authority. Parents dead, house and inheritance gone and nothing much more to lose.

Tense, tight and a bit of a roller-coaster ride. I was sucked in hoping that a measure of recompense could be extracted by Mercie and her wing man Kermit. We get a brief and sobering glimpse of the reality of life behind bars, as the course of true retribution never runs smoothly.

I had a couple of niggles with some of the elements of the story, but they were over-looked easily enough and didn't take away from an enthralling tale.

Re-Pete... borderline horror and a close contender for top story. Mother has a new boyfriend, her son Pete has issues - understandably - and you know things might just get messy...

Hunger.... a man, his daughter, her dog, her brother, a boat, a bereavement - all is not what it seems. There's some puzzling elements to how this unfolds - hallucinatory imagery, that I'm not sure I totally understood. Maybe if I re-read it a couple more times, I'd get my head around it. Maybe not.

Libby's Hands... always respect your Grandmother's wishes - you may come to regret things if you don't - another horror-ish tale with Halloween as the backdrop. Minor confusion again, but still worth the time.

Marsh Madness... short, sharp and another stand-out story - a boy, his dog, an alligator, a low wooden pier, his mother, a watchful hunter maybe stalker and a rifle

Overall, I really liked this collection. I'm more of a fan of the straight forward in your face stories where it doesn't require too much cerebral firepower to try and guess the author's intent. Three and three quarters of them worked very well for me, with only one leaving a slightly annoying sense of puzzlement. (Maybe I'm just thick.)

4 from 5

Chris Roy has few other books under his belt.
Shocking Circumstances : Book 1 Last Shine
Shocking Circumstances : Book 2 Resurrection

Sharp As A Razor : Book 1 A Dying Wish

Facebook - Author Chris Roy
Twitter - @AuthorChrisRoy

Read in May, 2018
Published - 2018 (26th May in fact - AM UK    AM US     AM CANADA)
Page count - 164
Source - review copy from Rachel's Random Resources, publisher - Near to the Knuckle
Format - PDF


A bit of crime from the 30s and 50s and some more contemporary stuff....

Wolfson, Wilson, Robinson, Thompson, Johnson and Lawson

D.W. Wilson - Once You Break a Knuckle (2011) 

An untried as yet collection of short stories.

In the remote Kootenay Valley in western Canada, good people sometimes do bad things. Two bullied adolescents sabotage a rope swing, resulting in another boy's death. A heartbroken young man chooses not to warn his best friend about an approaching car. Sons challenge fathers and break taboos.

Crackling with tension and propelled by jagged, cutting dialogue, D.W. Wilson's stories reveal to us how our best intentions can be doomed to fail or injure, how our loves can fall short or mislead us, how even friendship-especially friendship-can be something dangerously temporary. An intoxicating cocktail of adrenaline and vulnerability, doggedness and dignity, Once You Break a Knuckle explores the courage it takes just to make it through another day.

P.J. Wolfson - Bodies are Dust (1931)
A bit of 85 year old noir.

I can't find a blurb for Bodies are Dust but there's a Wiki page with a few details on Wolfson and a couple of reviews of this one on Goodreads

Denis Johnson - Nobody Move (2009)
I read his Resuscitation of a Hanged Man a few years ago and liked it enough to try more from him. Sadly Johnson died in 2017

From the National Book Award-winning, bestselling author of Tree of Smoke comes a provocative thriller set in the American West. Nobody Move, which first appeared in the pages of Playboy, is the story of an assortment of lowlifes in Bakersfield, California, and their cat-and-mouse game over $2.3 million. Touched by echoes of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett, Nobody Move is at once an homage to and a variation on literary form. It salutes one of our most enduring and popular genres - the American crime novel - but does so with a grisly humor and outrageousness that are Denis Johnson's own. Sexy, suspenseful, and above all entertaining, Nobody Move shows one of our greatest novelists at his versatile best.

Jim Thompson - The Kill-Off  (1957)

When I first developed an affinity for American crime fiction, Thompson was just coming back into vogue, some years after his death in 1977 - penniless and unremembered.

Luane Devore is about to be murdered. Among the suspects are various people whose reputations have been blighted by Luane's malicious gossip, including her young, servile husband and a doctor with an ugly secret in his past.

John Edward Lawson - Last Burn in Hell (Director's Cut) (2005)
Speculative punt, not an author I have previously heard of, but I liked the sound of this. Bought it and subsequently buried it in the pile and forgot about it!

The bizarro prison sex horror road trip exploding with alien invasion action!

Kenrick Brimley, the state prison's official gigolo, hangs over a lava pit on trial for his life in a strange land. He will reveal the course of his life one misguided step at a time for his captors. From his romance with serial arsonist Leena Manasseh to his lurid angst-affair with a lesbian music diva, from his ascendance as unlikely pop icon to otherworldly encounters, the one constant truth is that he's got no clue what he's doing. As unrelenting as it is original, Last Burn in Hell is John Edward Lawson at his most scorching intensity, serving up sexy satire and postmodern pulp with his trademark day-glow prose.
The Director's Cut edition includes:

Deleted scenes

Alternate ending

Photo stills

Remastering for more enjoyable viewing

And more!

Todd Robinson - The Hard Bounce (2012)
Years ago, I used to frequently tune-in to the online fiction site, Thug-Lit - run by Big Daddy Thug - Todd Robinson. I bought his debut novel and again forgot about it - WTF! 

Boo Malone lost everything when he was sent to St. Gabriel's Home for Boys. There, he picked up a few key survival skills; a wee bit of an anger management problem; and his best friend for life, Junior. Now adults, Boo and Junior have a combined weight of 470 pounds (mostly Boo's), about ten grand in tattoos (mostly Junior's), and a talent for wisecracking banter. Together, they provide security for The Cellar, a Boston nightclub where the bartender Audrey doles out hugs and scoldings for her favorite misfits, and the night porter, Luke, expects them to watch their language. At last Boo has found a family.

But when Boo and Junior are hired to find Cassandra, a well-to-do runaway slumming among the authority-shy street kids, Boo sees in the girl his own long-lost younger sister. And as the case deepens with evidence that Cassie is being sexually exploited, Boo's blind desire for justice begins to push his surrogate family's loyalty to the breaking point. Cassie's life depends on Boo's determination to see the case through, but that same determination just might finally drive him and Junior apart. What's looking like an easy payday is turning into a hard bounce--for everyone.

Wednesday, 16 May 2018



A double murder. A mysterious inheritance. One PI is about to follow the money all the way into a den of thieves…

After surviving a bullet, Angelina Bonaparte was certain she could handle any case that came her way. But when her next client walks through the door with an unexplainable seven-figure inheritance after the death of her parents, the private investigator wonders if she's in over her head. After all, when she visits her client's family attorney, Angelina discovers yet another bloody crime scene.

With the help of her new flame, Angelina follows the clues into an underworld of war-plundered artifacts, stolen treasures, and deadly consequences. As their last lead grows colder, the PI must catch the killer before an endless cycle of murderous greed gets her client killed.

Cash Kills is the second book in the suspenseful Angelina Bonaparte Mysteries series. If you like hard-as-painted-nails female detectives, historical mysteries, and twists and turns you won’t see coming, then you’ll love Nanci Rathbun’s loaded crime thriller.

A new-to-me author with Nanci Rathbun and only my second time with a female PI after enjoying Susan Grafton's Kinsey Millhone in A for Alibi a few years ago.

Unfortunately I found it a difficult book to read, probably as much due to personal circumstances as to any failure of the author to captivate and engage me. Reading it straddled a difficult time period of leaving an old home after 25 years and moving to a new one. Physical and mental fatigue as well as demands on my time left little in the tank to enjoy my usual leisurely pursuits of reading and to a lesser extent blogging. Whatever book I happened to be reading would undoubtedly have been a distraction and irritation.

Plus points - I enjoyed the set-up and the premise of the case. A bereft daughter is struggling to come to terms with the death of her parents and also the fact that having lived their lives so frugally they manage to leave her a million dollar inheritance. Angelina Bonaparte, our PI and lead character has to discover the provenance of the cash, before her client, Adriana can decide whether to accept it or not.

As a character, I enjoyed Bonaparte's instincts and abilities and her interactions with her friends, family and cop boyfriend. Said boyfriend also has an interest in the case, as Adriana's parents were murdered - execution-style. A second murder, soon after Angelina takes the case raises the stakes.

The unfolding of the mystery, the uncovering of facts and establishing the motive for the crime and the introduction of secondary characters to also shed light and become part of the hunt for the murderer and provide security for Angelina and her client, as they became endangered, the closer to the truth they got was logical and well reasoned. The events which set the whole scenario in motion were of interest and provided pause for thought. Without giving too much away; a horrific event in recent European history, the conflict in the Balkans is the backdrop to our book.

Irritating elements - the author's insistence on talking us through our 50-something PI's daily outfits including her choice of lingerie, pretty much each and every time the sun rose. I get that the character has spunk and a certain feistiness and has got over the divorce from the cheating husband and is proud of her status as an independent woman with a career, grown-up kids and grandchildren, and new found beau. I don't really need to picture her wearing a thong because it's date night.

Secondly, the secondment of gay best friend Bobby into the investigation and a willingness to have him as a PI trainee, I wasn't especially convinced by. A minor annoyance in the scheme of things, I suppose. I quite liked Bobby as a minor character, and his support with Angelica's client, Adriana was crucial, but I wasn't sold on his sudden career ambitions.

Pace - I'm undecided on really - mainly due to my own reading issues. At times it felt like I was swimming through treacle, but again, more me than the book I think. I'd willingly try a second book by Rathbun before determining whether I would continue reading her in the future.

Overall 3 from 5

Nanci Rathbun has two other Bonaparte books to her name. Truth Kills is the first in the series and Honor Kills which was published at the beginning of May is the third.

Her Facebook page is here. She's on Twitter - @NanciRathbun 

Read in April/May 2018
Published - 2014
Page count - 261
Source - review copy from author
Format - Kindle

Tuesday, 15 May 2018


A couple from Daniel Woodrell this week and a pair from his Rene Shade trilogy. The Ones You Do concludes the series.

Woodrell has written ten books in total with The Maid's Version his last published novel in 2013. It's about time he had something new out, I reckon.

There's no author website, but here's a link to an interview with The Independent he gave in 2006.

I've read a few from him, probably these two included, though so long ago they probably don't count. The last time I kind of crossed paths with his work was watching the film Winter's Bone starring Jennifer Lawrence which was based on his 2006 novel.

Under The bright Lights (1986)

Jewel Cobb had come to St.Bruno to climb on the big city gravy train. His cousin Duncan set little Jewel up to do the killing. The boy was hillbilly raw but country rough, and pleasingly expendable.

It seemed a simple enough case for the authorities. Too bad the dead man was a prominent black city council man. But for the police detective Rene Shade it all looked too neat. Shade takes on city hall as he follows a twisting trail through the sleazy streets of the Cajun quarter into the murky swamps and bayous that ring the city. It is a trail that leads to corruption and yet more murder.

Muscle For The Wing (1988)

The first thing Emil Jaddick shoved through the country-club door was double barreled and loaded. The First thing he said to the poker players inside was - "Do I have your attention? We're robbin' you assholes ... any objections?" That's how Jadick came to St.Bruno. He had a killing crew of fellow ex-con wingmen and a sweet and red-hot sex machine named Wanda to help him do his down and dirty work. He had big plans and no pity. Only one thing could stop him - a cop who played by the same rules as Jadick ... None!

Thursday, 10 May 2018


Nothing brightens the day up quite as much as hearing there's a new PDB book on the horizon!

Last Year’s Man by Paul D. Brazill will by published by All Due Respect on 22 June 2018.

A troubled, ageing hit man leaves London and returns to his hometown in the north east of England hoping for peace. But the ghosts of his past return to haunt him. Last Year’s Man is a violent and blackly comic slice of Brit Grit noir.

“Brazill offers a series of amusing episodes filled with breezy banter in this offbeat slice of British noir.”- Publishers Weekly.

"Brazill is brilliant, a unique voice which stands out from the crowd" - Keith Nixon, author of the Solomon Gray books.

“It’s all here, everything you’ve come to expect from a Paul D. Brazill caper—the fast pace, the witty banter, the grim humour and the classic tunes—except this time he’s REALLY outdone himself. Unlike the lament in the song the title takes its name from, Paul’s best years are surely still ahead of him.” — Paul Heatley, author of Fatboy.

“Paul D. Brazill is the Crown Prince of Noir. That’s my opinion, granted, but I stand by it. For those who require proof, just pick up his latest novel, Last Year’s Man, and it will be clear why I make that statement. All hail the crown prince!” — Les Edgerton, author of The Rapist, The Bitch, Just Like That and others.

Paul D. Brazill’s books include A Case of Noir, Guns of Brixton, The Last Laugh, and Kill Me Quick! He was born in England and lives in Poland. His writing has been translated into Italian, Finnish, Polish, German and Slovene. He has had writing published in various magazines and anthologies, including The Mammoth Books of Best British Crime.

Catch him here.....


Previously on the blog.....



AUGUST 2017 - 31 DAYS, 31 SHORTS!




AUGUST 2016 - 31 DAYS, 31 SHORTS